Florida bill will institute COVID-19 liability shield

A bill filed in Florida will provide houses of worship, employers, schools and other nonprofits with a liability shield from COVID-19-related lawsuits, if they meet minimum recommended safety requirements. 

House Bill 7   was filed by Rep. Chris Sprowls on Wednesday, while Sen. Jeff Brandes filed the identical SB 72 in the senate. The house bill has been added to the Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee agenda. 

“Florida businesses and organizations that do the right thing should not fear being drowned by massive litigation costs,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “We are fast tracking this COVID-19 liability protection bill to ensure that there is no potential for unscrupulous litigation to threaten Florida’s economic recovery. Ours is the most aggressive liability protection bill in the nation.”

If passed, the bill will dismiss almost all lawsuits filed for COVID-19-related damages. Plaintiffs will be required to have an affidavit from a doctor directly tying a defendant’s COVID-related complications to the entity being sued. 

 

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If the bill passes, Florida will join 16 other states that have some level of a COVID-19 liability shield. A federal liability shield was discussed as a part of the December COVID-19 relief bill, though it was not included in the law that passed.

The Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee will meet for the first time in 2021 on Wednesday, where they will vote on whether to send the bill to the house floor. 

Florida’s two-month long legislative session begins on March 2. Committee meetings will begin this week.